Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Little Mice

On Saturday, I found myself with a few hours to kill, quite unexpectedly. Our friends had planned to come over for dinner, but she was feeling ill at the last moment and they canceled. Of course we missed them!

Since the I had some bananas that had turned the corner, I made some banana nut bread. I used a very simple recipe, which I can't recall where it came from. :| I also made a batch of bread. Oh, this bread is so good! It's the honey, I am convinced.

Aren't they pretty there, all lined up and perfect? And the smell! My goodness, it makes me want to dig right in. Oh, but they're so perfect! I couldn't bring myself to cut into any one of the loaves.

Then I got to the other side. Some little mice did not feel quite as strongly as I did about the untouchable perfection of our little loaves. And, well, since they had already started the job, who am I to stand on ceremony?

Pretty generic banana bread recipe, but I'll share it here because it was moist and yummy and it was the first banana bread I've made in a while that I didn't get a maw full of baking soda for some reason. The hell? And really, even though it's pretty close to every other banana bread recipe I've seen, I do wish I could credit the person....Sor-rreeee!

2 c flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

½ c oil

1 c sugar

2 eggs, beaten

4 ripe bananas, mashed

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 T milk

walnuts (the original recipe didn't call for them, but, hello, who makes banana bread without walnuts?)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Stir flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in one bowl. Combine oil and sugar in another bowl; beat in eggs, banana, vanilla, and milk. Add flour mixture and throw in a bunch of walnuts, beat on medium for a minute. I didn't even chop the walnuts or anything, because I figured the mixer would break them down. It worked out. Pour into greased loaf pan (I spray with cooking spray) and bake 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes and transfer to wire rack.

Here is the bread recipe. I've never used a bread machine, but my mom always did until I showed her how to make this bread. She gave the bread machine to my brother. Need I say more? This recipe, I do remember, came from Beauty That Moves. But she's a lovely crunchy hippie from...back east somewhere, I believe, like Vermont or Maine?..so she uses ingredients like 'wheat germ' and 'agave'. So I'm writing it the way I do it, but I'm 100% certain her way is even better, if you're feeling that way inclined.

2 cups warm water (I throw the glass measuring cup in the microwave for 1 minute 40 and it's perfectly warm)
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup light vegetable oil
4 cups all purpose white flour
2 cups whole wheat bread flour

(I am just as likely to use 6 cups of white flour, which is what you see in the picture above, but it's just wonderful both ways.)

1. Pour the warm water, the yeast, and the honey into a bowl. Proof 10 minutes. (I'm nutty, and I like to whisk it all together to dissolve the honey a bit. I did it once for some reason, and because I'm such a novice baker, I've never been able to completely convince myself that it's not an integral part of the process. OCD much?)

2. Add salt and oil into the yeast mixture. Pour this into a large bowl with all the flour. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in well oiled bowl, turning the dough so it's covered in oil. Cover the bowl with a warm, damp cloth. Allow to rise for one hour. Unless I'm already cooking something else, I always put my oven on the lowest temp (for me that's 135 degrees f) and pop the bowl in there for rising. Our house can be quite cool on it's own, and this gives me the best rise.

3. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves and place into two well oiled 9x5 loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.

4. Bake in a 350F oven for 25 minutes. When you thump the top of the bread it should sound hollow. After I pull it from the oven, I let it cool for a few minutes and then I remove it from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack.

These recipes come with a Little Mice guarantee!

Monday, March 30, 2009


I had lots of help today.

In the kitchen, the boys grated cheese for our quesadillas. Today was actually supposed to be "Taco Night", but Tommy requested quesadillas at the last minute. I didn't have any tortillas on hand, having used the last of the corn tortillas to make a batch of chicken enchiladas.

While the boys grated cheese I whipped up a batch of flour tortillas from this recipe at texascooking. How much do I love that I could make these for all of about 40 cents and without having to drive to the store? Oh, I loved it so much! I followed the recipe imperfectly, and it worked beautifully.

If you decide to make these, the only thing I didn't do was let it rest for 20 minutes. 15 minutes, I did. But then I couldn't do it for another 20. It just doesn't take that long to grate the cheese, and I had to roll! I think I waited less than 10 minutes and just got on with it. Worked like a charm, anyway!

I also got lots of help in the garden today. Scotty is smitten with the poppies. They've been on the verge of blooming for a couple of days, and we've had 'some' open already. But they really turned the corner while they were at school today. When we got home around 3:30, there were dozens of blooms! He couldn't hardly stand it! By the time I had unloaded the car with a few groceries, he was standing underfoot...with a present for me. (Little boys, bringing flowers to mama...be still my heart.)

I had to convince him that at least a few poppies could be enjoyed in their natural habitat, and thankfully he agreed before plucking every flower off!

Last spring, I sprinkled wild flower seeds ~ which largely turned out to be poppy seeds, and that's fine by me because I love them ~ into this little brick planter just beside our front door. Over the subsequent months, I found matchbox cars and army men and legos and tank engines interspersed among the plants. Eventually, the miniature toys were no longer cutting the mustard, and the big guns were hauled in. I know when I'm bested. I pulled the wild flowers in the fall and this 'planter', now more of a 'player', has been empty since.

So I was very pleasantly surprised to find volunteer poppies sprouting all around the yard this spring! Truly, it's the biggest PLUS for native plants. They just...thrive. So what you see here? All natural diaspora.

By the way, not one volunteer poppy landed where I would have chosen to grow them. *sigh* Oh well! Just another lesson in letting go.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Before and After

After work today...and please, can we not talk about how distracted and unproductive I felt today? thanks!...I headed out into the yards. It was a beautiful spring day, and I really needed it! I watered, and picked peas and beans from the veggie garden. They didn't get far...I sort of ate half of them before I got back into the house. Those peas? Right off the vine? Oh my.

I watered the flower beds in the front yard. I will never ever get over the first sprouts that poke through after you set bulbs or seeds. Every time, it just slays me. I've been watering and checking those beds daily, and the one that's supposed to turn into a field of ranunculus has steadfastly remained dirt (when it's dry) and mud (when it's wet).

Until yesterday! When I checked it, there were the first signs of life. *heavy sigh* My heart just skips a beat every time. Today, there were nearly two dozen sprouts. I know it's just physics, matter and energy, but it's so magical. Every single time.

When I headed around back, well, I was less enraptured with the miracle of plant life. Here are some weeds. They are roughly the height of Tommy, and they have the approximate density of a Vietnamese rainforest. I've been handpulling back there all this week. I can now see the sandbox and the play house in the kids' area, and yesterday I revealed the stairs going up to the raised patio. I have hope that I will completely clear the rest of the play area and the weeds that surround the pond.

And here is the "after" picture. Haha! I kid. I did clean out the hall/entry closet this evening, and these are the results. I did not have an 'after' of the yard, nor a 'before' of the closet, so here you go, the lazy homemaker's mash-up.

Games and cards are on the top shelf. (I do look forward to the day when my kids can have their own games at their fingertips, but today is not that day. If we don't monitor things, we'll have play money and lost pieces all over the house.) Coats, mittens and scarves are hanging. Wrapping paper on the left, my childhood nightstand on the right, filled with ribbons/bows, tissue paper, gift bags, and tags. A box of handmade cards (thanks dear Cynthia!) underneath, plus a box with scotch tape and scissors. Dare I say it? It's like a gift-wrap station. What will I do with all the time I used to spend, hunting for tape, and yelling at my family for using my sewing scissors to cut paper? The mind just boggles!

Did I not mention my little friend? This little caterpillar was curled up, sleeping. He woke up and played with me for sometime. He was pretty dang cute. Tommy petted him but was resolute in declining my offer to put him in his hand. Scotty would have done it, but he wasn't home. Scotty was one of the few kids at his pre-school who wanted to hold the ladybugs in the field. He also loves to go to the zoo and actually look at the animals, unlike Tommy who complains the whole time until we get to the rides.

Eventually it was time to bid him farewell. I think I'll leave some weeds, just for him. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Care Package

A few weeks ago, I was flitting around the internet (as you do) and I came across Troop Care Packages. I was reading around the site, thinking to myself that we should totally 'adopt' a troop and send him/her care packages.

A few years ago, I had the occasion to work with a group of youth who had just graduated high school. Many troops are just exactly that age; 18, 19, 20 years old. And I was struck completely by one overwhelming thought: These kids are SO. YOUNG. Ridiculously young. I don't ever remember being or feeling as young as they seemed to me. It was crazy.

Erik was across from me, I had my laptop in my...well, in my lap...and he looked up to ask me something and he saw the tears running down my face. Now, I'm not a weeper. So he waited a second and asked me what was up. There I was, reading about these kids, across the world, so far from their families, friends, lives, the worlds they know, and there's a section in the blog where they can write in and make specific requests.

Do you know what the number one request was for? Items to give to the children and people in the areas they are serving. Used jeans and tennies, blankets, hats, mittens, sunglasses... I'm not made of steel, people.

So I signed up and we packaged up the items our new friend Robert requested. We don't know anything personal about him (yet! But I hope he sends us a note with the cards we put in the box!) but we know he is at an outpost in Afghanistan with very few amenities. He asked for snacks, cafeinated beverages, baby wipes, and a multi-tool or knife. There is no microwave available.

The flat-rate box recommended is pretty small, but here's all the stuff we're cramming in. A multi-tool, a huge container of cashews, assorted corn nuts, two packages of baby wipes, cheese-n-cracker snacks, rice krispy treats, cans of starbuck's mocha double shot energy drinks, and two cans of fruit...peaches and pinapples. I can't send the box out until I get confirmation that canned fruit is okay...I know from the customs site that fresh fruit, animals, and live plants are not cool. Fingers crossed on the canned fruit though. If I were stuck in the desert, I'm pretty sure of can of peaches would make me cry.

I only had to repack it twice in order to get in everything but two packages of corn nuts and one rice krispy treat. We also included some cards and envelopes. They're pretty girly...what can I say? I tried to butch it up by picking the ones that were white with mostly blue print...of birds and flowers. Ugh. Hopefully he'll at least use them to write to us! I'm not sure if these particular snacks are hit or miss.

I'm really grateful that this woman Angel is keeping this site up. It seems like she's been doing this for many years. And it breaks my heart just writing that...years. I am a peace-nik. I will just about always take the non-violent option. I'm not going to argue the point that some people are cuh-razy and really only respond to threats and ass-kickings. Of course that's true; I don't live in a bubble. I am very specifically against this war, and the war crimes committed in our name. But I am most definitely pro-human. And I am so happy to be able to have this chance to do such a small thing that lets me reach out...across the world...to make a totally human connection.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Here We Go

The other night, Erik and I were watching 60 Minutes and Alice Waters was on one of the segments. I was kind of shocked that Erik had never eaten at Chez Panisse, but only because it's right here in Berkeley, and it's, like, one of the most famous restaurants...um...anywhere. He loves food too, so it seems like the kind of place he would have made it to.

I also know her work from the Edible Garden she had a hand in starting at one of the middle schools in Berkeley.

So, we're watching together, and I'm completely charmed by her. She's so passionate about her work, and she's cooking for the interviewer (I'm sure I should know her name; I do not) and she's harvesting chives from her kitchen garden and she's using what I roughly estimate to be a $300 knife to chop them up. Her kitchen is a dream and actually has a wood burning brick oven. I know because they showed her cooking an egg in a copper ladle by holding it over the open fire right there in her kitchen. Shut. Up.

Was it yummy? The report is that it was 'the single most delicious breakfast' the interviewer had ever eaten. Was it beautiful? I'm here to tell you that it was a shockingly beautiful meal.

After the segment ended, Erik was all, "She seems elitist, and pompous." It's like we weren't watching the same show at all! I'm sputtering around with a bunch of "how could you say thats" because I saw a little organic farmer who loves food and loves cooking and basically birthed the sustainable food/organic movement. How could you not love her? Elitist. It shocks me! Here is somebody who believes every person deserves pesticide free food, who preaches the revolution of taking control of your own food production, who yes, happens to have a pretentious brick oven in the middle of her, yes, multi-million dollar mansion, but come on! She wasn't doing the interview on her yacht, or blinged out in $3000 sunglasses, or shooting around between takes in her Mazerati. She had a pretty singular vision, and all her material splurges came back to it...$4.00 for a pound of organic grapes, that knife, her extraordinary kitchen, a garden I would hurt somebody for...I quite liked her, I quite liked her message.

She mentioned something I hear a lot about in urban homesteading circles, which is that she would love to see some of that White House lawn removed, to make room for a produce and herb garden. As I said, I've heard people talking about this for years. There is a whole segment of society that would love to see all lawns outlawed! Anyway, I looked at Erik, and I said, "If anyone's going to tear out the lawn and plant food, it's going to be the Obama's."

And I heard today that Michelle Obama is planting a garden at the White House. That's nice, don't you think?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Love My Noise...er, BOYS...I Love My BOYS

Alright, Moose, this kid is ready! He's been loving baseball and being on a team! He bats left and throws right. We've been working on his wrist action because, apparently, he throws like a girl. He's waiting for you! Opening day is this Saturday, but he'll have Wednesday night games too. He'll be thrilled if you and Kelly can make it to a game! And bring Aunt Betty (for me) please. I love watching him play, because he takes it so seriously. Cutie pie (heart) (heart)...

And then there's this guy. Lately, I've had to sneak up on Scotty to get a picture of him. If he knows his photo is being captured, I get a pose like this.

And sometimes it makes me giggle and I take the picture. And other times, I'll say, "Please, baby, mommy wants a sweet picture!" And he'll tell me, "But, mommy, this is my favorite trick!"

And then I laugh my ass off.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fire! Fire!

Scotty loves to dress up in the fireman outfit at his preschool. And he loves to watch Fireman Sam on PBS. He comes positively unglued when he hears a siren or sees a fire engine. Come to think of it, he behaves similarly when hears or sees anything train related.

Anyway, I went online and bought him a fireman's outfit. Oh my, he nearly broke my heart with cuteness! Look how happy he was!

It came with some accessories ~ a toy axe, a walkie talkie, an extinguisher (and because I live with boys they quickly figured out that it actually squirts when filled with water!), and a funny little inflatable hose.

So he called in an emergency.

And quickly set about rescuing Tommy.

He's so proud of himself! Now he can be found, beating the plastic axe against the living room wall, and yelling, "Fire! Fire!"

Monday, March 16, 2009

It stopped raining this week, and we had a series of sunny days. Sunny, but still so cold! I had to water the winter veggies for the first time in over a month. As I approached the main planting box, with the snap peas and fava beans, I thought to myself, "Well, the winter garden was a bust. It's just such a shame!" But that didn't stop me from watering the plants.

As I stood there, I could smell the sweet blooms from the plants. I had no idea they would smell so great! Like flowers, really. These things bloomed like crazy, but we just never got any beans or peas to grow on them. If I learned anything from starting my garden last spring, it is that you just have to pretend as if it's working ~ water, weed, hope; water, weed, hope; water, weed, hope ~ and then suddenly, it does work! I had planted my tomatoes in April, yet they didn't sprout from the yellow buds until July; they didn't turn red until late-August. At any time, in the four months it took me to harvest my first tomato, I could have stopped taking care of them, and I think it would have been justified more than once. But I learned to keep taking care of them, and I was rewarded with all the tomatoes, sauce, salsa, and cucumber-tomato salads any girl could hope for.

As I was standing there, enjoying the scent and reflecting that winter-gardening just turned out not to be a viable option, I noticed that there were snap peas poking out of the trellis!

And just like that, I noticed they were everywhere! These were virtually invisible to me moments before, and now I couldn't believe how many I was finding, hiding in and around the leaves.

Gardening is so magical! As I moved among the different plots, continuing to water and looking with new eyes, I could begin to imagine pulling up garlic and onions for cooking.

I saw my herb garden differently, too. Previously too disappointed by the lack of basil growing there, I only just noticed how prolific the cilantro and flat parsley have become.

And two of the four plots of lettuce refused to grow at all. But suddenly, and quite pleasantly, I have a dozen or more heads of butter lettuce that are very nearly ready to become dinner salad!

I'm so sorry, winter garden, that I ever doubted you!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I am finishing piecing together this blanket for my dear friend Maia. Maia was married last June. Her wedding was a blast! She is so special to me, and this proves it. I really don't like making big blankets like this. It exhausts me! I have great stamina the first half, but then it hits me how much further I have to go and I just about come unhinged. The last third of any adult-sized blanket is like a death march for me.

Ironically, this is the third of four blankets that I've finished in the last two weeks alone! Before this, I don't think I made four blankets in the last four years, but here we are. There was Monica's blanket, my dad's blanket, and this one, which I need to get in the mail to London ASAP. Just a few months after the wedding, the blushing bride was whisked off to London for a couple of years by her groom. I'm hoping I can manage a visit before he's relocated back to the states! He does something in...sales, I think?

I started this blanket in November. I made the rectangle patches from chenille thick and quick using this free pattern from lion brand yarn. Lion Brand dot com gets some people pretty riled... they have some silly little patterns! But you have to hand it to them; it can't be easy coming up with reasons to use 'festive fur yarn' and, so, you're going to get the occasional pattern for what amounts to a fright wig. So, clearly, this is not the kind of fiber art that appeals to me. But I can forgive the transgression. Who am I to judge? I once made a tissue box cover out of plastic canvas. And glitter yarn. Glass houses, people.

There's absolutely no reason why I couldn't have made this pattern myself: each rectangle is 12 rows of 11 half-double crochets. Fasten off. Weave in ends. Sew together. Not exactly rocket science! But they graciously gave me the pattern for stitching the rectangles together to make that nice little step. Again, nothing I couldn't have figured out, but I like not having to reinvent the wheel. And you can see in the picture, there's my laptop, because I screwed up the placement twice just trying it on my own. I'm normally pretty good with visual/spatial kind of stuff, so I'm not sure what the malfunction was. I'll just say it again: I was only too happy to have had somebody else to do the gauge and the patterning on this thing.

I would have much preferred the colorway in the sample worked up for the pattern. The colors are very earthy. But the purple, periwinkle, and violet combination I landed on really suits Maia. Can I tell you how much I hated that lighter violet color when I opened the box that came in the mail? There was plenty of the purple and blue locally, but that third color was pretty elusive. I ordered directly from their site, based on the tiniest little swatch. I think in my mind it was more grey than it actually looked in person. Oh dear. I really just sort of kept at this thing, even though I was sure it would be hideous. But by the time I got it all pieced together and the sewing done, I have to say...it's really pretty! What a pleasant surprise. So often it happens, when you are making something, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

A sweet lesson in having some faith.

:: Beautiful ::

The first year that I taught third grade, there was a sweetie-pie little girl in my room named Sabrina. On Valentine's Day that year, her dad surprised her by showing up at school with a stuffed animal puppy and a heart-shaped box of chocolates.

And it made me think about how if she's really lucky a little girl's first and truest love is her daddy. There is something so romantic between fathers and daughters. Men always think they want a son ~ somebody they can relate to and understand ~ but then they have a baby girl and they get completely twisted. Around a little finger. And daughters like me grew up believing that their dads are heroes. I mean this sincerely: I believe, with all my heart, that my dad can do anything. I wish I had just a wee bit of money for every time I've thought, "My dad can fix this." A flat tire. A leaky faucet. A broken heart.

When I was growing up, we kept our memories in my mother's closet. A brown shopping bag full of pictures could fill an afternoon. Hot tears of longing and laughter streaming down your cheeks, a parade of people you used to know. What would I do to hold my grandma's hand one more time? To tell my brother I forgive you? And just when I think my heart will break, a picture that makes me laugh. We were covered in mud! My dad was so young! My mom was such a hippie!

One of the pictures, in one of those bags, is my school picture from 6th grade. I was eleven years old when that picture was taken, and I was so homely. So homely. I was all home perm frizz. I was all freckles and unkempt brows. I was all braces and chubby cheeks. I love that picture because I can see in that girl's eyes and in her smile that she had no idea that she was not pretty.

This little music box is the present my dad gave me at Christmas that year. When you wind the bottom, the music plays and she spins and spins. The song? Most Beautiful Girl. Hey, did you happen to see the most beautiful girl, in the world?

She's 30 years old now. Even when she's fully wound, she only sloooowwwlllly spins now, barely squeaking out the notes of the chorus before she runs out of steam. In her hand, she used to hold a small umbrella. Both her hand and the umbrella are long gone. But I still have her, and I always will. I have no idea where the checkbook is, and I've never seen the paperwork for our insurance, but I can guarantee you that if (knock on wood) my house caught fire tomorrow, I know where she is. I would save her.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

:: Blanket ::

My dad has raced motorcycles since...um....I can't remember a time when my dad wasn't racing motorcycles. Dirt bikes. Most of my childhood was spent laying under a motorcycle, in the back of a van, inhaling gas fumes, while my younger brother (dressed in full gear) pretended to race and my mom and dad held hands across the divide of the front seats, belting out Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings until somebody got hurt. My dad would be driving us to the mountains, and we'd camp while he looped a hundred miles or so around the mountain on his bike. He rode enduros, which were, well, endurance rides. You couldn't be a champ through brute force, you had to be fast and you had to finesse the clock. It wasn't a race to the finish; it was a test to make sure you 'Goldilocksed' the course. You couldn't get to each checkpoint too fast, and you couldn't get there too slow. You had to get there just right. And my dad almost always did. He was the number one enduro rider for 5 years, back in the '70s. He's still quite famous in those circles, and he's still fast enough and tough enough on a bike that bad-ass riders, half his age, give him his props and shake their heads at what he can still do.

I loved that childhood! I loved that we got to spend every weekend camping and fishing and swimming in lakes. I loved it when it snowed, I loved it when we went to the desert. I loved it when we rode our bicycles, when we rode the motorcycles, when we roasted marshmallows around the fire. I loved it when the adults would get all liquored up, and forget that we were there, tucked into our sleeping bags, and that we could hear them still talking by the dwindling fire. I loved the way my dad would come in for more gas, and he would take off his goggles and he'd have just that strip of white skin around his eyes; the rest of him was muddy and dusty and I loved the way he and his friends would come in and down a quart of gatorade because they were riding so hard. I loved the way the bikes sounded on the morning of the race. I loved that my mom cared only about us, and ignored everybody else. It's amazing how many people want to be your friend when you're married to the prom king! But she just knew him as the jackass who took the sink out of her kitchen, then wanted to spend every weekend in the mountains, while she spent every week doing dishes in the bathtub. You could say that she wasn't as impressed.

I did not love, for the record, being attacked by wasps, losing a Barbie doll in a particularly rough river crossing, or breaking a rib on the mini-bike. But everything else? I definitely loved it.

My dad doesn't race anymore. But every year, he and his motorcycle club (my second family, all of them I've known since I was barely Scotty's age) put on a race. We all go up there, camp, and chip in however we can. There was a box of t-shirts in the closet of the office at my mom's house, and they were most of them from that race. It used to be called the 'Cowpuncher' (a bit of a sick joke at the expense of a rival motorcycle 'gang' (ha!) that put on an enduro called the Cowbell), and I think over time it just sort of became known as the Wilseyville Hare Scrambles.

I cut off the fronts of shirts, where the graphic and the year shows, and sewed them together into a big grid, five feet across by six feet down. Sewing with t-shirt material? Not that fun, for an amateur such as myself. I understand a "serger" is a machine that would come in handy in these cases. I puzzled and puzzled, and finally ended up ironing stabilizer onto the backs of each t-shirt square. It gave the knit fabric just enough 'umph' to make it through my low-end machine.

It was a really big job, but I finally got it all put together. It's impossible to photograph a blanket, I've decided, and this time I can't even blame my camera! It's just hard. But this is the general idea of the front of the blanket.

I sandwiched the t-shirts, some Warm and Natural batting, and a piece of dark blue flannel. The flannel is printed with little black paw prints of different wild animals. I didn't have enough flannel, so I had to spend, oh, about a month trying to figure out what I was going to do. It was too long, and too skinny. So I trimmed off the bottom, cut that extra part into two pieces, and pieced it back together some pretty red t-shirt material. I found a t-shirt with The Bone on it (there is a real bone, I think it is a cow femur that they found in the woods on a ride) and I also cut out a piece with the name of their racing team. The Bone is given to a member of their motorcycle club, usually because they did something really, really, stupid. Usually involving breaking something on their bike. Or their person.

Do you know? In the end? It turned out I liked my little work around better than if I had had enough flannel to just back it in one piece. Isn't that a nice surprise? I really hope he likes his blanket. I made my husband sleep with it for one night, to test it for warmth, comfort, and durability. He gave it a thumbs up!

Monday, March 9, 2009

:: Card Game ::

I finished the sweater on Thursday night, and gave it to Barbara on Friday. She loved it! She said Christine got many gifts, but none of them were handmade. Don't you think every baby deserves a little handmade love? I really do!

Barbara especially loved the turtle buttons! You were all so right... it had to be the turtles.

And just because I'm the kind of guy who, at 10:30 at night, thinks, "I think this sweater needs some booties!" I went ahead and made these with yarn left over from the trim. My camera really doesn't do well with the details, but the little ribbons are pink with tiny white polka dots. Could you swoon? The booties are from Crochet from the Heart which was a Christmas gift from my dear friend. These were made in less than 10 minutes each. You really can't beat that!

Saturday night we went over to my mom's and had a blast playing cards with Uncle Larry and Aunt Barbara. I can totally remember doing that when we were little. Every Sunday night, we'd go to my Grandma Dot's. We'd have dinner, and we'd watch Mutual of Omaha (I think it was an animal show?) and The Waltons. Then the adults would play pinochle and we'd watch The Wonderful World of Disney.

Doesn't it all sound so wonderfully old-fashioned? And I have to laugh, because playing cards with my parents and my aunt and uncle, it didn't feel old-fashioned at all. Just felt like we were living our lives. That's probably what they were thinking too... I can't believe that they were imagining me, thirty years later, waxing nostalgic about an evening of family-friendly television and the raucous bravado that comes from accusing a loved one of making a crappy bid in a card game.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

...Who's Got The Button?

I made this adorable little sweater. Oh dear, I love making things for babies and kids. I just do! They are so...wee. I love how quickly they work up. I started this one yesterday and finished it today. AND, I worked all day, both days. So, you know. It's made from organic cotton, just like this cape, and it's one of my favorite yarns for kids/babies because it's so soft and sweet. The pattern is the super easy and completely free "Baby It's Cold Outside". It can be found here.

I made this for my former principal's very first grandbaby...a little girl born just a few weeks ago! Oh, a new love story is being written, and I'm so happy for all of them! Her daughter-in-law was a student teacher in my classroom a few years ago, and I fell in love with her too. I am giving it to my former principal tomorrow, to pass along to the brand new mommy, and I need two buttons for the side closure. I've got many buttons, most of them recycled or thrifted. You can never have too many buttons!

But I'm having a really hard time picking the right button. These are black, made of wood. Erik thinks these are the best ones, he always says "black buttons" because it's "classic". I think it looks okay, but is it too stark? Pink and black, for a newborn? hmmm....

So I tried white. I think we can all agree that this doesn't work.

My not-so-great-camera (which feels just-right-for-me-anyway!) makes this hard to see, but I wondered, you know, maybe a dark green, or a dark blue? Make it a little more funky? Would that be right? I don't have the most sophisticated taste, so I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure a completely not-matchy color would be cool. Possibly wayer cooler than someone like me can legitimately pull off.

Every once in awhile, when notions are on sale, I 'splurge' on a few new packs of buttons. During one of those reckless sprees, I brought home these little turtles. I love turtles, and I wrote a whole 'ode to turtle' on my first blog. This reminded me of it, so I went back and found it. The original story, minus 6 words and one sentence, follows below, if you're interested.

In the mean time, do you have an opinion about the buttons?

Previously posted in October, 2004....

What I was thinking about, was this whole turtle thing. I love turtles. Even though I have never shown my tatoo before this year, all my classes have always showered me with turtle gifts, because they know how much I love them. Kids are cool like that.

When I was growing up, I loved to find places that I would just fit in. I think my dollhouse obsession stems from this. I love not just little things, because you know people collect miniatures for a hobby, and that's not me; I respond to things that are just the right size. It can be huge, but only if what's inside of it is also huge. I'm very moved by this condition. I have a physical reaction of peace and well being when this state is met. When I was younger, I would sleep in cardboard boxes in my bedroom, or I would pull my bed out from the corner so I could squeeze back there and that's where I would read and do homework. I'd find spots all over the farm - behind a bale of hay in the shed, or under an overgrown bush, or I'd sit for hours in the wheelbarrow and read. I felt the safest when only I fit, when nobody or nothing else could breach my cocoon.

I remember the first time I met a turtle. I cried. Here was this little animal, and he carries around a house with him that only he fits in. My soulmate. I know, snails, crabs, I get it. But the turtle was the first, and my first true love.

And there's more.

Turtles are slow. Like me, when I'm running. Turtles live in a hard shell, but they have vulnerable little bellies. Like me, when I love you. Turtles can die from being flipped over, because they can't get back on their feet, but they can't breath for long when they're on their backs. Like me, when I'm hurting but I can't ask for help.

See. I'm a turtle.